The 8 Most Effective and Dynamic Exercises To Train the Core

by silvioliving on September 23, 2012

 Are you ready to rock out your core?  Sometimes the core is missed, and this can occur for any number of reasons. Not enough attention, ineffective exercises, and more can neglect to give your core muscles the best and toughest workout, leaving them behind as you progress on your fitness journey.

 

In order to best train the core, you’ll need to know the fundamentals of what it is, what it does and how to work it out.

What is the core?

The core is made up of dozens of muscles, ligaments, protective bones, and cartilage. Together, these protect the underlying vital organs. The core houses all of the parts we need to function and stay alive and well. While the heart is protected under the rib cage, many of the organs are only protected by soft tissue, the muscles. The core is considered the centre of the body, and most people think of abs when it comes to core. In actuality, the core also includes the muscles of the upper and lower back.

Why Train the core?

There are many reasons to train the core, all to improve its functions:

  • Looks: A simple and honest answer for a lot of people is to improve the look of the abdomen. Most want a flat stomach, or even better, a 6 pack. One of the first places we put fat on and the last place to get rid of it is the stomach. Its an awful thing to be self-conscious of our bodies, but it is a reality for most of us.
  • General health: Stomach fat is not health. Fatty tissue around the organs becomes high risk at a certain point and this should be avoided with a full body workout plan and good diet. Increased fat collection at the abdomen increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and other obesity related conditions.
  • Back pain: If you’re experiencing back pain, it can often be a result of weak abdominal and back muscles. These muscles are designed to hold the spinal column in place, and support your arms and shoulders. If there is an imbalance or weakness anywhere in this chain, you can expect to find out through back pain. A combination of flexibility and core training should relieve this discomfort in the back.
  • Posture: These muscles are also responsible for posture. If you slouch or hunch your back without realizing it, you probably have bad posture, a symptom of weak, or under-active core muscles. These muscles should have enough tone and tension to naturally pull your shoulders back, and keep you upright. A rigorous core training routine along with lots of stretching should solve a postural problem.
  • Protection: as mentioned previously, the core holds all of your vital organs. A part of protecting your health is to protect and preserve the space that you live with. Strong, toned core muscles provide a layer of protection to your organs and bones.

Incorporating core training into your workouts

The core is fairly resilient and tough. Even though you may not overtly see any muscles obviously popping out at you, they are there, and they work every day. The core is at work during almost any movement we do, including sitting, standing, walking and running. Nearly everything you do requires some type of participation of the core. Typically, the core muscles work as stabilizers. For example, when walking, it is the core which works to keep you upright and balanced on your two feet.

It is not as though the core never works. It is more that it is not working enough to improve. Without training, all muscles begin to atrophy, or shrink, losing strength, mass and tone. Eating the right foods and continuously challenging them is the only thing which will help you keep them strong and intact.

Exercises for the core

There may be hundreds of exercises out there for the core. We’ve compiled a list and description of the top 8 most effective and dynamic exercises you can do for your entire core.

Floor exercises without equipment

Over head sit-up

This focuses on the mid to upper abdominal muscles.Lie on your back on the floor, bending at the knees, with feet flat on the floor. Extend the arms up and overhead. Keep the arms extended and reaching for the ceiling as you complete a sit up. Add weight to increase the challenge. Complete 8 to 12 reps and 1 to 3 sets.

Plank

This focuses on the entire core chain, from the upper back to the hips. Lying face down, lift the whole body up off the ground, supported by your forearms and toes. The body should be flat like a plank and parallel to the floor. Hold the position for as long as possible- at least 30 seconds, and up to 60 seconds.

Hollow body

This focuses on all of the abdominal muscles. Create a scoop-like effect by lying on your back, and raise the arms overhead to a 45 degree angle to the floor. Similarly, lift the legs, fully extended at the knee to a 45 degree angle as well. Push the lower back into the floor, and hold this position for as long as possible. 10 seconds minimally, up to 40 seconds.

Superman or Hyper-extension

This exercise works the entire posterior chain of muscles which support the spine for posture. Lie face down, arms extended ahead. Lift both legs and arms up off the ground as high as possible, contacting the ground with just he abdomen. Hold this position for as long as possible. Minimally 10 seconds, up to 45 seconds.

Exercises with basic equipment

Pikes – exercise ball or TRX
This works the whole chain which stabilizes the core and flexes at the hip joint. Using either an exercise ball or a TRX suspension trainer, you can perform a pike.
With the exercise ball: in a face-down position to the floor, support your bodyweight on your hands, arms fully extended. Place knees over the exercise ball and draw the ball forwards without bending at the knees. Lift hips towards ceiling.
For the TRX trainer, place feet into loops, holding the body in a straight plank position and then draw the feet forward by lifting at the hips and keeping knees fully extended.

Woodchop

This focuses on the stabilizer muscles and the obliques. Start by kneeling down on the right knee. Using a dumbbell or a medicine ball in both hands, bring the weight over the left shoulder, with arms extended. Gentle draw the weight down, diagonally to the right hip, without moving any other body part than the arms. Perform 8 to 12 reps and switch sides.

L-Sits

Using roman rings or a well secured TRX, lift your body up off the ground using your arms in the rings. Keep your hands as tight as possible against the hips and lift both feet off the ground, extending fully in front of you, creating an “L” shape with your body. Hold the position as long as possible, at least 10 seconds, and as much as 30 seconds.

Training the Core for a 6 Pack or Flat tummy

Unfortunately, exercise alone will not lead to a flat tummy, let alone your dream 6 pack. The abs are like any other muscle; if they are challenged with resistance training, they will adapt to meet your challenge, becoming stronger and more firm. However, the fat which covers it will not go anywhere with lots of training. Thousands of crunches and leg raises will not reduce belly fat since fatty tissue and muscle tissue are two completely different cells. To get rid of fat, you’ll need to work with a two dimensional plan. A good workout should be accompanied by a good nutrition.

Understanding good nutrition

There is a difference between following a diet and following good nutrition. One is only followed during a short period of time while good nutrition should last a lifetime. Healthy foods are responsible for weight gain and loss about 70% or more of the time. Especially with age, food takes a toll on the body. You’ll surely have noticed after the age of 25, that everything you eat seems to have an effect on you. Following even basic nutrition habits will have a great impact when combined with your exercise routine.

Basic rules to follow for lifelong good nutrition should look something like this:

  • Eat clean: no fast foods, no instant foods, and only foods in their natural state
  • Drink water: cut out juices and pop completely. Limit coffee and tea, and drink as much water as you can throughout the day.
  • Cut out processed foods: no more processed meats, or processed wheat. Choose actual whole grains like lentils, rice, beans, oats, and no more pastas!
  • Snack on fruits, nuts and veggies and eat protein with every meal
  • Eat a variety of foods: legumes, fruits, seafood, meats, poultry, nuts, grains, dairy, and learn new recipes to get better ideas and to keep things interesting.

These basic rules do not force you to eat specific brands or count calories. Nutrition like this leads to long-term, sustainable health. Eat as much as you’d like to of the healthy foods and combine it with exercise 4 or 5 times per week. Say good-bye to unwanted fat and hello to a leaner, fitter, happier body!

Looking good and feeling better naturally is now just a phone call away. Try Acufitliving now for a FREE, no obligation 30-minute consultation. Call us now to get started today:

Tel:917 445-9969 or
E-mail us at: silvio@acufitliving.com

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